As a child, I always had a side hustle. Always. I started my first business when I was 5 years old. I sold family members tickets to watch me sing, dance and perform magic shows. I couldn’t do any of those things very well.
Yet, I consistently sold tickets and made money. At a young age, I knew there was always something else that I could do to make a profit. If my story sounds similar to your childhood, then I’m confident you have the spirit of an entrepreneur.
This is the year to tap into your entrepreneurial essence, but prior to creating your business plan, there are important questions you should be able to answer regarding why and how you’re going to start a business.
Most of us are taught to go to school, get a “good” education and after graduation, immediately begin working for someone else to help build their empire. This ultimately produces the Wrong Way to Work Syndrome, which is limited income, slow growth, illusion of security, no control, and no authenticity.
The first step in starting a business is assessing whether or not you’re truly ready to become an entrepreneur. Get your notebook and pen ready to begin building your dreams as I guide you through the process of determining if you’re prepared to start your own business.
1. Define Your Definite Major Purpose in Life.
Answer the following questions authentically.
• Why am I here?
• What is the purpose for my life?
• What fulfills me above all other things?
• What do people always ask me to do?
• Why do I want to start a business?
• How many hours am I willing to invest each year?
• Am I a self-starter or do I need to be motivated?
• What is my yearly financial goal?
Answering these questions will allow you to reflect on your Definite Major Purpose (DMP). This will lead you as you consider what type of business you want to establish.
2. Design Your Business.
What products and/or services are you going to offer your customers? What will you sell? This is the centerpiece for your business. The questions below will help assess your talents, strengths and passions. Ask yourself:
• What talents, knowledge or skills do I have?
• What would I do even if I didn’t get paid for it?
• What do people count on me for?
• What things cause me to lose track of time when I’m doing them?
• What topic do I yearn to learn more about?
• What things give me the most satisfaction when I do them?
• Do I want employees?
• Do I want an office?
• What products will I sell?
• What is the first thing I would like to use my business profits for?
Be specific about what you’re working for. Simply telling yourself that you will ‘make more money’ is not sufficient.
3. Know Your Customers. This is beyond essential. You must know who you’re going to sell your products to and remember that your best customers will not be your family and friends. Write a description of your ideal customers. How old are they? Where do you live? What do they enjoy doing? Who do they follow on Twitter and Facebook? What events do they attend? Where do they shop? This is a critical piece as you begin to develop your marketing plan. Not only do you need to know your customer, you must also know what products they want to buy. Don’t create a product without surveying what your niche market desires.
4. Get a Mentor. But Follow Your Own Gut. Every successful business owner had and still has a mentor. You’re no exception. However, when selecting a mentor, don’t fall victim of wanting to be included instead of focusing on authentic relationships and strong mentor/mentee bonds.
Avoid selecting a mentor based off of what you see other people doing and get caught up in the feel good moments of various social events and conferences. You should foster a genuine relationship with someone who you choose to be your mentor. No one can make this decision but you.
5. Stay Away from Dream Killers. As a new or tenured entrepreneur, you must be very wary and cautious of Dream Killers (DKs). They come to dismantle your progress and destroy your happiness. If people are not genuinely happy for you or they don’t support your goals or encourage you, get rid of them.
You do not need Dream Killers speaking over your life. Don’t listen to them. Put your fingers in your ears. Evaluate your entourage and expel DKs if they exist in your circle.
6. Hustle Even When It Hurts. There will be times that you’ll cry due to lack of sleep. There will be growing pains. You’ll second guess yourself and the path that you’ve chosen as a part-time or full-time entrepreneur. You may have a negative account balance one day. People may question your intelligence. Just keep going and keep pushing. Hustle even when you think it’s over. It’s not over!
I believe in you and your dreams. The decision to become a business owner is one of the most difficult choices you’ll ever make; yet it is the most rewarding. Until next time, keep the faith and never give up.
By Dr. Lisa A. Matthews
Follow Dr. Matthews on Twitter: @LA_Matthews